Tag Archives: Deer

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The Treehouse at The Ranch at Laguna Beach

The story in Southland Golf: www.southlandgolf.com/articles/work-386-laguna-resort.html

The Ranch at Laguna Beach is on the back nine of its plan to become the coolest nine-hole resort course in the country.

More than two years of renovation and construction will finally come to an end this summer (May/June) when project opens its remaining guest rooms, spa and the building housing its Harvest restaurant, front desk and banquet and ballroom spaces. The de facto Presidential Suite, the two-bedroom, two-bathroom Treehouse – the remodeled former course owners’ home overlooking the No. 1 green – come online in Feb.

The Ranch debuted its first 62 hotel rooms last summer. While operating with those rooms, a patio to host breakfast and lunch, a pool, a pantry, a golf shop and the course, the resort has rocketed up the local rankings on Trip Advisor, reports Jim Tolbert, The RanchLB’s Director of Sales Marketing.

“We up to No. 5 (out of 22 resorts/hotels) in Laguna on Trip Advisor,” Tolbert said, “and that’s with only half the resorted completed during our preview period. Everything we’ve opened has been very well received.”

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Tolbert said the original preview goal for The Ranch’s marketing was to expand its tourist draw to a 150-mile radius to complement its strong local following. He said the property has already exceeded that goal and gone global.

“We’re getting people from all over,” he said. “We’ve had people from Germany to Great Britain to Arizona, and we had many folks from the East Coast over the holidays.”

After making a turn off the Pacific Coast Highway in South Laguna and taking a quarter-mile drive east from the ocean, guests are greeted by a vast expanse of canyon. That’s the scenic corridor that surrounds the winding nine-hole course.

Tolbert says guests are awed by the unexpected beauty of the canyon first and the rooms, decorated in a coastal ranch and beach cottage theme with a lot of local flavor, such as artwork of Laguna, complete the dazzling first impression.

“They walk into the room, their mouths open and their eyes get wide,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing to watch peoples’ reaction to this place.”

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The final plan to renovate the former Laguna Beach country club was approved by city officials in April of 2014. The clean-up and restoration of the course, built in the 1950s and suffering from neglect, was the first priority.

The course has enjoyed a strong local golf following for decades and caterers to all levels of players – and couples. (The course held a Valentine’s tournament in February.)

To foster a golf culture at the property, free 15- and 30-minute lessons are offered.

One of the beauties of having a nine-hole course, Tolbert said, is that it’s inviting to first-timers and plays fast at a time when time (slow play) is an issue at many courses nationwide.

“Golf is part of the culture of the place and the guest experience,” he said. “Our course isn’t intimidating so people should feel comfortable giving golf a try.”

The course is among the most walkable anywhere and offers a mix of par 3s and 4s and the discovery of wildlife, including deer midway through your round, along the way.

Besides golf, the resort has become a big dining draw for the food as well as the canyon views, Tolbert said. He notes that a number of menu ingredients will be grown on site at the Harvest Garden.

“It’s American-style cuisine using fresh California ingredients. We supplement the menu with things grown in the garden here on property,” he said. “Every dish is full of flavor and the items themselves are relatively simple but technically perfect.”

Tolbert praised the talents and creativity of chefs Camron Woods and Mary Catherine Woods.

Tolbert said the opening of the Harvest restaurant will only boost The RanchLB’s reputation as a local dining and social destination and make the resort even more formidable in the competitive local market.

“It’s going to be the coolest resort in Orange County for sure.”

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View of the Treehouse from the course

March Southland

Ranch No. 1

The Ranch LB: 9 for 9 – Nine Films That Capture A Day At The Ranch At Laguna Beach

Ranch No. 1

Taking a bit of inspiration from ESPN’s popular 30 for 30 documentary series, we present 9 for 9 – nine short videos that capture the experience of playing the nine holes at The Ranch at Laguna Beach. As you’ll see there’s much to see, do and discover during your day at The Ranch – and after. Have we mentioned the course is a quarter mile from the ocean?

Photo Post: Ben Brown’s Golf Course In Laguna

I made a completely pleasant golf discovery last weekend that I wanted to share with you.

I was invited to play the nine-hole Ben Brown’s Golf Course at The Ranch at Laguna Beach. This is one of those local-secret courses, but it’s too good not to share. From the online description, I gathered little about the course I was about to play after being invited. I recalled a course sign being where this supposedly was – a mile from the ocean off PCH, just past Dana Point – but I’d never heard anyone talk about it.

Finding it is the first issue, though my phone app. got me there no problem. But the turn-in is sparsely and confusingly signed (what’s Aliso Creek?) and easy to miss, especially if you’re still fixated on the ocean.

But what you discover will surprise and amaze you. It’s a beautiful nine-hole layout that wanders through an incredible canyon setting. Every hole is a discovery of fun golf and wonderful scenery, including caves, that’s best taken in on two feet as this course, a SoCal rarity, is completely walkable. In fact, hardly anyone rode the day we played.

The course stretches to 2,221 yards from the blues and presents a fun mix of alternating par 3s and 4s that makes you work through most of your bag. The course and greens were in impeccable shape and provided enough tough holes to keep things interesting. There are at least two holes, both involving creek carries, here you’ve got to play at least twice to figure out how to club right. And I definitely recommend looping this course twice, mostly because it’ll take you no time at all. The pace was terrific here, too.

Oh, and when you arrive you hear rumors about deer. Sure enough, we saw them on our second nine. Deer in Laguna. Who knew?

Anyway, this is where I power down my fingers and let the photos do the talking. Here’s a glimpse of a great, and somewhat undiscovered, south Orange County golf experience.

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(Zoom in if you can’t see the moon.)

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9th at Laguna

Highlight Hole: No. 18 at Dove Canyon CC

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I’m choosing one hole at Dove Canyon Golf Club partly because I’ve got a great photo of it and partly because of my unique experience there, but you really can’t go wrong selecting about any hole at this Jack Nicklaus Signature Design course in Trabuco Canyon.

Arriving at the tee at 18 brings about mixed emotions.

The high is that you’re about to discover the fabulous finishing hole you can see from the putting green of the clubhouse. The low is that an extraordinary golf experience is coming to the end.

Dove was one of my favorite Southern California golf discoveries last year for a host of reasons, which I’ll get into. I got to play there through my connection with Southland Golf Magazine.

I mention this because Southland Golf is presenting a unique opportunity for you to play Dove, a private club. Via something called the 2014 Southland Golf Series, you can play Dove on March 31st for $85, which includes a continental breakfast, a sleeve of balls, appetizers and raffle prizes. You can register at southlandgolfseries.com or by calling (714) 796.3620.

Besides a fantastic golf course surrounded by beautiful mountain surroundings, you also get access to one of the best practice facilities in the area. Hitting balls into a mountain backdrop at Dove is one of the best range experiences around, and it only gets better from there.

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The practice range at Dove  

Considering yourself warned: Dove is a tough course. I played reasonably well there partly due to being guided by the head pro for most of the round. On your own, expect to earn every par and birdie. In particular, Dove boasts the toughest par-5 I’ve played in California, the 557-yard 11th. Tight barely begins to describe this hole. The entire fairway feels like it’s being played in a four-lane bowling alley – with a tree in the middle.

Amongst the most memorable holes are two elevated par-3s – Nos. 10 and 17. No. 10 plays 198 yards (212 from the back tees) into the wind. I reached with possibly the best hybrid of my life.

No. 17 is a real showstopper and sets the stage perfectly for 18. The 17th plays 205 from the back tees and 162 from the blues, but doesn’t play nearly that long because you’re basically hitting it off the top of a five-story building to a green below with dramatic drop-offs on the front and back.

The view from the tee into the canyon makes you do a double take the first time you see it, and it’s a blast to play. I hit 8-iron to the back of the green, but should’ve gone with a 9 and maybe could’ve gotten there with a pitching wedge. The ball carries forever.

It included this hole in my list of the nine best par-3s I played last year.

You hopefully walk off with par or birdie on 17 to give you momentum going into 18, which is an aesthetically astounding finishing hole but hardly a bear to play.

Playing to 432 yards from the back tees and 389 from the blues, you simply want to avoid the tranquil pond on the right and give yourself a reasonable approach to a green backed by a gigantic waterfall.

My experience at this hole went to another level when I reached my second shot. There was a deer drinking from the pond. A look down the fairway revealed an entire herd, several of which were congregated on or behind the green.

The game at the point seemed to change from playing golf to not spooking the deer as members of our foursome took more shots with their camera phones than their clubs.

I have no idea what I scored on that hole, but I know I’ve got 20-some deer photos on my phone. It was an ending the likes of which I’ve never had on a golf course before and one I’ll always remember.

I, however, wouldn’t mind going back and going for birdie on a finishing hole that has rate with the best in the area. It rivals 18 at Sherwood for best setting for a finishing hole.

Mr. Nicklaus did a lot of great work at Dove, but 18 is truly a masterpiece. I hope you get a chance to experience it because I have a feeling you’ll walk away feeling the same way about it that I do.

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Photo Finish: Deer at Dove Canyon

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I’ll write more about Dove Canyon at a later date, but for now I’ll send you into the holiday weekend with some photos from the end of yesterday’s round.

We had quite a special scene as we played No. 18. There were deer on both the fairway and around the green, probably seven in all. We saw at least 20 total during the round, a record for me, which is more than I could say for my scorecard.

Anyway, here’s a glimpse of the deer who caused me to ponder the question: what’s better than a birdie on 18? Answer: Five deer waiting for you on the green.

Enjoy. And happy holidays.

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Speaking of Golf and Animals …

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Since we’re on the topic, this happens to be my favorite photo of all time of animals on a golf course. It was taken at Quarry Oaks in Ashland, Neb., which used to be a destination course for my good golf friends and I when I lived in the area. Deer and turkeys are found in abundance here, and this shot perfectly captures, to me, the Quarry Oaks experience. I imagine I’ll be writing more about this place in a future post.